Four years ago, Christ Church Memphis Senior Pastor Dr. Shane Stanford created the Founders Circle Banquet to celebrate the work of Christ Church Global (CCGlobal), the church’s media outreach ministry. In addition, key leaders from the church and community are also recognized. The featured speaker for the evening is the winner of the prestigious Dunnam Award for Excellence & Impact in Christian Writing, named for its first recipient, Dr. Maxie Dunnam. (complete list of award winners listed below)
In 2018, that winner is Dr. James V. Heidinger II for his work The Rise of Theological Liberalism and the Decline of American Methodism. In presenting the award, Dr. Stanford said the book was one of the most incredible works of church history in the Methodist tradition he has ever read. Dr. Heidinger noted he was moved and humbled to receive an award linked to the name of Dr. Dunnam.
“Maxie is probably the most widely known, highly respected and dearly loved United Methodist in our denomination. A writing award named after him is so appropriate, and I commend the church for that. His Workbook on Living Prayer has sold a million copies… and to think Maxie’s written 40 more books in addition to that – what an enormous contribution.”
Heidinger on role of Dunnam
In his address, Dr. Heidinger continued to remind the audience of the significant role Dr. Dunnam’s leadership has provided in several waves of concern about the theological direction of the church:
- -1987 Houston Declaration: 45 leading United Methodists from 42 churches in 18 states warned leaders of the church about moving away from its traditional Christian doctrine.
- -1992 Memphis Declaration: 100 United Methodist clergy and laity gathered at Christ Church again to express concern about the theological direction of the church. As Senior Pastor, Dr. Dunnam served as host of this gathering that resulted in a declaration circulated to gain 212,000 signatures in just three months. The document was laid on the floor of the hotel lobby at the 1992 General Conference.
- -1994 Confessing Movement: 92 United Methodists gathered in Atlanta to consult about the future of the United Methodist Church. The group was concerned that the crisis presented by the church’s liberal teaching and doctrinal trends could precipitate a split in the church. Dr. Dunnam was one of three prominent leaders who brought this group together.
“For a United Methodist pastor, standing faithful on behalf of truth is what we promised to do when we were ordained,” he said. “Standing for truth may not always be easy. The truth may be unwanted, ridiculed, resented, resisted, opposed or mocked, but that doesn’t make it anything less than the truth of God’s Word. And it’s truth worth suffering for.”
Other Award Winners
The Buckman/Mollerup Award for Innovation in Christian Ministry & Serving
Mark Ottinger of Memphis Family Connection Center, accepted by Mylissa Horrocks
“You might not know we began our services for adoptive and foster families just upstairs on the second floor here at Christ Church, which was such a gift. We began in 2016 providing holistic and integrated care around adoptive and foster families…on most recent count we’ve had 2,000 appointments since. We are so grateful for the way Christ Church has supported this important work in Memphis.”
The We Believe in Memphis Award for Program of the Year
Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings, accepted by Deputy Director Mike Ryall
“Director Rallings is my friend, and on his behalf I accept this award.” Ryall recounted the challenging events that happened in our city within months of Director Rallings’ appointment. “We began to work through it under the direction of Director Rallings, who is a God-fearing, God-loving individual, and he wants to see a culture change in this city that is led by a sovereign God that created this entire world.”
Award for Faithful Service (Service award for person who has gone above and beyond to do work as a servant)
Julie Vukadinovich for her work with Room in the Inn
“This is awesome. God is awesome. He has strengthened and humbled and amazed me through this whole process. I heard about it as mission coordinator of my Joy Sunday school class and asked that we get involved and then got our church involved. For two years, we have hosted one time a month for those who need a night of respite, a meal and some love. I never thought I would jump into the waters like this. I never thought I would speak into a microphone like this, but God has stretched me and walked with me through every step of the way. I look forward to serving more and more as the years go by.”
The Christ Academy Award for Leadership 2017
Elizabeth Duncan/Senior Adult Ministry & Russ Phillips/Trustees
While recognizing a number of people, Elizabeth said she would not be here without the help of Joe Thweatt and Rev. Chris Carter but wanted folks to know, “Senior Adult Ministry is alive and well at Christ Church – to God be the glory!”
“I moved here in 2002 and felt a calling to find a church. I showed up at the front door, and I’m 90 percent sure it was Cooper Robinson who led me to the Timothy House to the young singles class…This church has become my community. It’s become my home. I met my wife here. It’s a really great place, and I want to remind everyone of that and why we are here and why we are doing this in the first place.”
The Christ Academy Award for Leadership-Legacy
“Other than receiving Christ and except for my 50 years of commitment to marriage with Trudy, this award is probably the most meaningful item I have ever had the opportunity to receive.” Boyd shared lessons in leadership he’s learned from a number of his mentors and friends, including a memorable term of endearment his wife calls him, GOAT: Greatest of All Time.
“I want to challenge you: Don’t be bashful about becoming yourself a GOAT grazer. All of us need prodding, encouragement and inspiration to take a stand, to help someone out. You’ve got it. I challenge you to look around for who you can guide to be one of what Trudy calls a GOAT!”
The Christ Academy Award for Teaching in 2017
“I’m very humbled and thankful to my wife Sherry and to the Bible Explorers Sunday school class for letting us lead that class as it’s a tandem effort, and all the glory goes to God… God’s Word is amazing. And I want to encourage you as you study God’s Word. What I find week after week is that my words are nothing, but God’s Word is deep and amazing and is alive and active.”
The Christ Academy Award for Teaching-Legacy
Phil shared how he structures his class and that the very last screen he puts up at the end of the class reads: Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. “We don’t have a motto, but if we did, that would be it. The Messengers have been meeting for 29 years, and there are charter members who have been there the whole time. I think about the quality of people I’ve met – friends that you meet in Sunday school and you keep those friends your entire life… What a wonderful thing it is to have a class you can grow up with for nearly 30 years and go through storms with. Our class has been through every kind of storm, and we’ve had joys as well. What a blessing is the fellowship of the church of Jesus Christ – it just can’t be beat!”